To find the best hair colour for you, it’s not about rolling the beauty dice or being swayed by what the latest It girl is rocking. “A lot of the time we want to look a certain way because of what we’re bombarded with, but if people have a good handle on how they look and feel about themselves, then we can focus on making their hair better than what it is naturally,” says Luis Pacheco, Clairol Canada consulting colourist. The building blocks that will get you to that just-right colour? These 7 steps will get you there.

Stay within two shades of your natural hair colour. If you want to ensure best quality results, this is what Pacheco recommends. “If you go beyond the two level barrier, over time, an excessive use of chemical will take a toll on your hair,” he says. (There are however caveats, so don’t be disheartened if you’re keen on a hue beyond two shades of your natural colour – keep reading!).

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Look to your skin tone for a cue to your hair hue. Your skin tone will play a major role in determining your hair colour. Is your skin tone cool or warm? An easy way to determine this, if you’re not sure, is to look at the inside of your elbow, says Pacheco. If your veins appear green, you have a yellow or warm skin tone. If your veins are blue or pink, then your skin tone is cool. So this will help guide you towards ash or golden brown or blonde. “With redheads, too, people often thing of red as warm, but you can have purply, blue cool reds or coppery, golden red,” he explains.

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Consider your haircut, texture and the maintenance. Your
hair colour isn’t a factor that stands alone when it comes to your hair looking good. It must go with your cut, your hair texture, and of course, you have to put in the maintenance your colour will call for to keep it looking its best. If you’re keen to go platinum blonde, for example, says Pacheco, and you have a short pixie cut, then it could probably work since some texture and the fact that there isn’t a lot of lengthy hair to get damaged will make it work.

Make your new colour last on the next page …
Give your colour the TLC it needs once you get your colour done. Of course, you’ll be using
shampoo and conditioner for colour-treated hair, but you’d be smart to lessen your exposure to heated styling tools as well. Also, “create a program for yourself — commit to getting your colour freshened up every four weeks so that you never have that week when your
colour is starting to look faded,” says Pacheco, who owns Toronto salon Hair on the Avenue.

Use demi-permanent colour as long as you can. When choosing between demi-permanent and permanent hair colour, you should use demi as long as you can and that will be determined by how much grey hair you have. If you have less than 50 percent grey, then use demi-permanent colours, says Pacheco. With demi, you won’t get the obvious roots—that’s one major bonus of it—since you’re just changing the tone . However, if you have more than 50 percent grey, and you’ll have to use permanent colour. (In which case, Pacheco suggests a product that will be gentle on hair, such as Clairol Perfect 10, which boasts glycine, which with its slightly acidic character helps create a luminous effect).

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Make the health of your hair one of your first priorities.
Your skin tone is a major factor in your decision, but also make the health of your hair a key component. Weigh the pros and cons of the colour you want, he says, and remember to think of it in terms of the colour you want balanced with healthy hair.

Compromise and “cheat” as a way to get the colour you covet. You’re dying for a hair colour that’s nowhere near two shades of your own—and there’s a way you can still have it. “Accessorize your base with it,” says Pacheco. For example, you keep your base close to your natural colour for the parts that are next to your face, but then you can add lightness in the tone that suits your skin tone, but in sections meticulously chosen. “This way there’s no interference with the colour,” he says. Think ombré or balayage, for example, as ways to “cheat” and get the colour. “It’s about experimenting and amplifying what you have naturally,” says Pacheco of his approach to hair colour.

Read more:
Hair colour: The new ombré hairstyle

Hair tips: How to maintain your hair cut

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